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In 2010, the New York legislature modified the Domestic Relations Law to permit “no fault” divorces. Prior to this amendment, spouses wishing to divorce had to establish a statutorily enumerated ground: (1) cruel and inhuman treatment; (2) abandonment for a period of one or more years; (3) imprisonment for a period of three or more consecutive years; (4) adultery; (5) separation in accordance with a judgment of separation; or (6) separation according to a written separation agreement.

Under the no fault statute, a party is now entitled to a divorce simply by attesting under oath that there has been an irretrievably breakdown in the parties’ relationship for at least six months. Courts will grant a no-fault divorce without the need for a trial. Given this change, most divorces in New York are now granted on no fault grounds, but judgment can be entered only after all ancillary issues have been resolved, including custody and parental access, equitable distribution, spousal support, child support,  add-on expenses, and counsel and expert fees.

While seeking a no-fault divorce is the best course of action in most cases, there are times when it may be appropriate to assert other grounds. In particular, no fault divorces are unavailable for spouses who have been married less than six months. Additionally, when one spouse has engaged in particularly heinous abuse, it may be appropriate to allege cruel and inhumane treatment as a ground for divorce, as “egregious conduct” committed by one spouse may affect custody and financial issues. For further guidance on when it is appropriate to assert fault as a ground for divorce, contact The Law Offices of Andrew T. Coyle.

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